Marketing’s image problem worsens—many wouldn’t recommend working in their own departments

Title proliferation hurts

The proliferation of titles within marketing organizations—such as consumer experience, growth, performance, commercial or communications roles entering the mix—also appears to drive down Net Promoter Scores, Rodríguez-Vilá said.

“We thought it should have a small impact,” he said. “But it actually has a pretty high impact and increase in friction, because it just increases organizational confusion.”

Conversely, clarity about roles of marketing in an organization and “marketing capability fit,” where the capabilities of staff match the defined needs of the organization, were the biggest predictors of higher NPS scores and performance, Morgan said.

In other words, the more successful companies have people who are “good at things that matter most to driving growth,” he said.

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The survey broke down 72 capabilities and practices, he said, identifying if they’re present in the organization and the quality with which they’re carried out. That might, for example, include a focus on personalization and the specific capabilities required to carry it out. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, Morgan said. Capabilities needed by leadership or challenger brands might be very different, even for companies within the same business category.

Even if marketing and marketers are viewed negatively by many consumers or customers, that’s not much of a factor in driving the NPS of practitioners lower, Morgan said. “I think it has more to do with how leaders and people in other functions think about marketing inside the organization.”

MMA’s mission to change image

Stuart said the MMA hopes to address the negative view CEOs and executives in other functions have of marketing in part by improving the quality of the measurement so marketers can show their impact on growth and enterprise value. The Marketing Accountability Standards Board has been on a similar multi-year quest to develop financial accounting standards to measure marketing impact. But Stuart said MMA’s plan is to go beyond financial accounting to develop and grade metrics on how well they improve marketing effectiveness.

The MMA, originally founded as the Mobile Marketing Organization, is now a general marketing organization with membership across the industry and marketers taking the lead, Stuart said. Marketers make up about half of the group’s board, with media, ad tech and agency executives also represented. The group describes its mission as “architecting the future of marketing,” and it includes think tanks focused on organization design, marketing attribution and data.

The Possible event is new this year, rolling up several MMA events into one big annual conference, Stuart said. The conference also has attracted attention and some controversy thanks to a planned appearance by Elon Musk for a fireside chat with Linda Yaccarino, chairman of global advertising and partnerships of NBCUniversal. And since Musk has eliminated much of Twitter’s marketing staff amid a 75% headcount reduction and doesn’t do much advertising at his other companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, he isn’t exactly one of the marketing profession’s biggest C-suite backers.

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Stuart said the conference will still be a step toward a plan to fix the poor reputation marketing departments have among their own marketers.

“Marketing has not developed a very good reputation amongst itself,” he said. “We need to be better.”